A Practice for Self-Love and Instant Joy

As the year draws to a close, look back on what you’ve accomplished with an extra dose of self-love.

Once again the year is drawing to a close. The seasons have paraded through, bursting out of the dark, colorless night into a riot of color and light, greening up the land and pouring sunlight around everything as the days became almost endless and summer’s heat warmed us to the core. And then the days shortened again—the leaves turned yet another beautiful array of color and then let go, drifting down to the ground, preparing us for the coming darkness. Another turn of another year.

Thus it goes, year after year.

We set our sights, plan our goals, work hard to achieve and now, as the days wane shorter, we take stock, so we can start to plan anew.

And once we take stock, we celebrate—not only our successes, but our challenges, the difficulties and even the losses. Those events that teach us, guide us, bring us wisdom. The obstacles that force us to work harder, to become our better selves.

What we celebrate, in the best case, is not only the victories, but how we showed up in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us.

In order for us to truly achieve our deepest desires, in order to land on top of the podium in any of our endeavors, it matters hugely how we perform. Not just in the one big race we’ve been training for, but in the daily training that is life.

There is a saying in the yoga world: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” So as you’re looking over your past year, how did you do?

In a society that prizes individual achievement, it is interesting to note that the things that make us feel the best and the happiest are usually giving to others: Offering an arm to an old woman crossing the street, letting someone who just lost his cell phone use yours, volunteering at the soup kitchen, coaching your kid’s soccer team, showing up after a natural disaster with first responders. Whatever it is you do that is giving back makes you feel good!

Study after study has shown that we are happier when we are helpful, when we are in a community, when we are of service. The more good you do in the world, the happier you’ll be.

And this is what gives me profound hope for the future. It feels good to be good. And the opposite is also true; it does not feel good to be mean, cruel, petty, hurtful or selfish. And little by little, as we learn and practice this on an individual level, we can be more successful at practicing this on a global level. Be kinder, give more, help more.

And all of that helping, and giving, and kindness must also begin within. Another tenet of yoga: Self-love is the root of everything.

So, when you are reviewing your year, ask yourself, “Was I kind to myself? Was I loving?” It’s great to work hard and push yourself, but make sure you are not punishing yourself. Strive and achieve because it feels good to get stronger, fitter, faster. But do it all for love!

Here is a simple thing you can do this season, to increase your powers of self-love. It is a simple technique from my book, “The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription,” that you can do anywhere. And watch as you plan your future how the more you love yourself, the better everything in your life is!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season!

A practice for instant joy


Photo credit: Bart LaRue, Unsplash